A Happy Pre-Thanksgiving

By: Chaunte McClure

In less than a week, airports will be packed, grocery stores will be super busy, and families will be preparing a heaping helping of turkey, dressing, ham, green beans, pumpkin pies, velvety mashed potatoes and other traditional delicacies to enjoy together at the dining room table on Thanksgiving Day. Well, that’ll be the routine for most families…

There are those who are less fortunate and won’t have the privilege to prepare a meal, have dinner at someone’s home or perhaps even have a meal. The kind people of Keepin’ It Real Ministries recognized this sad reality and did something about it. Last Sunday, the organization, with the help of volunteers, served a pre-Thanksgiving dinner to more than 400 homeless men and women, and a few children, at Columbia’s Finlay Park.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Seeing the homeless kids really tugged at my heart and I couldn’t help myself but to get down to their level to strike a conversation. Although they had little say, it was obvious that what they had just received meant a lot to them. Their faces lit up like a child’s does on Christmas morning when he or she opens gifts, and all it took was a plate of warm food, a backpack and people willing to make it happen. That’s ministry. God wants us to be among those who are suffering so we can be ministers for Jesus Christ.

The more than two hours spent in the cold organizing, plating food and distributing backpacks were worth the smiles I saw and the expressions of gratitude I heard.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Whenever I participate in this type of mission, I always have to thank God. Lord, thank You for the roof I have over my head. Thank You for the food I can eat daily. To be in the presence of so many people who don’t have a place to stay really helps me appreciate the state I’m in, even if I think it’s not the best.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

As we enter the holiday season, I hope you will find opportunities in your community to serve. Keepin’ It Real Ministries will serve dinner to the homeless again on Christmas Day and the ministry is in need of volunteers. Will you help? The Christmas meal will be served at the Sumter Street Transit Station on the corner of Sumter and Laurel Streets at 4 p.m. If you’re interested, give Oscar Gadsden a call at (803) 406-0724 and let him know you want to help.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders

By: Brady Evans 

Some would see it as a perk: living pretty far away from any take-out options.  No sabotaging your diet with fast food.  No temptation to be lazy.  No wasted money on ready-made food when you have a full pantry…

Others, like my husband, would see it as punishment.

I am always all for cooking at home when the other option is going to town for dinner.  Spending over an hour in the car just to eat just isn’t efficient.  My husband doesn’t seem to care as much but that’s probably because he does the dishes.  Going out to eat = less work for him.

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders

When I decided to make this meal he was really, really bucking for a meal out.  By the time we would have gotten to the restaurant these delicious lemon glazed Asian chicken tenders were on the table.  They were sweet and sticky and sour.  Just delicious!  For leftovers they made an awesome Asian-inspired wrap.  Make these as guilt-full or guilt-free as you feel by either deep frying or baking chicken tenders (frozen or homemade!).

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders (Adapted from Damn Delicious via Stephanie Cooks)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken tenders, cooked to your preference
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Diced green onions (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer on low for 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  • Arrange cooked chicken tenders in an oven-safe baking dish. Pour the sauce over top, flipping so both sides are coated. Bake 10 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and dish is warmed through. Top with scallions, if desired.

The Skinny on Juice Cleanses

By: Morgan Robbins, RD, LD at Lexington Medical Center

Cleansing is the red-hot health trend sweeping the world by storm. Checking Instagram, I see pictures posted by friends and celebrities with a rainbow of juices in their refrigerator and a caption talking about starting a cleanse. I often overhear conversations of people thinking about starting a cleanse because they feel sluggish or have been eating poorly. “Cleansing” the body of toxins, chemicals and impurities sounds appealing to most people, but are the claims accurate?

juice cleansesThe 411-
There are many different cleanses. The celeb-endorsed juice cleanses are most popular. Most juice cleanses consist of a series of juices to drink during the day for a set period of time, usually 3-14 days. Some cleanses allow foods while others do not. They range from $20-$70 per day. There are also cleansing options that come in pill form and are to be consumed with a healthy diet.

The Claims-
Rid your body of toxins, weight loss, improved energy levels, increase fruit and vegetable intake, reduce inflammation, reset the digestive system, strengthen your immune system and glowing hair and skin. Drinking juice for a few days to boost the immune system and improve energy levels? Sounds like a good bargain to me.

The Science-
The scientific evidence is lacking to prove that one will reap the sworn benefits that are promised while cleansing. The thing most juice bottles leave off the label is that the kidneys, liver and intestines do an excellent job of filtering out the garbage we put into our body. Will you lose weight? Probably yes. However, if you go back to eating the way you were before the cleanse, you’re more than likely going to gain the weight back and could possibly slow down your metabolism in the process. Supplementing a healthy diet with a juice drink will likely cause no harm, but there is needed research regarding juice cleanses.

Thoughts-
Until there is solid scientific evidence about juice cleanses and their effect on the body, I would recommend thinking twice before taking another swig of your green juice as your sole dietary intake for the day. Skip the juice, skip the diet and just eat healthy. It’s really quite simple. There is truth behind the saying “you are what you eat.” If you eat well, you’ll feel well. Keep in mind, some cleanses contain a high amount of sugar and minimal fiber. Often people are looking for shortcuts and quick methods for weight loss, however healthy eating will always be the gold standard for living a healthy lifestyle.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/diet/detox-diets

Fried Green Tomatoes

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I grew up here in South Carolina. I consider South Carolina to be pretty solidly Southern. We embrace grits, chicken bog, good barbeque, okra and Frogmore stew. However, until the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” came out, I’d never, ever, ever heard of this food. I grew up with plenty of people who would eat tomatoes right off the vine, juice dripping all down their forearms. I had countless friends who dream of sliced tomatoes and lots of mayo on white bread. And only in the South do you find gorgeous, sliced red tomatoes on green tomatoesa menu as a side dish. But green tomatoes? No one ate green tomatoes. In fact, as a toddler, I committed the world’s worst transgression when I picked them all, piled them up and then happily showed off my dad’s prized unripe bumper crop exclaiming “Look daddy, green balls!” He. was. not. pleased.

So, this movie comes along and I must admit, I was instantly curious. But, again, I knew no one who ate this crazy dish. I wondered, “Are they just regular old green balls, or some odd variety of tomato that is green when ripe?” Then one day, the (old) Rockaway’s started offering them on the menu. Without hesitation, I ordered some. I was an instant fan. The tomatoes were firm and tart. The outside was crisp and laced with black pepper. They were just heavenly. I ordered them every time we went there. But alas, one night Rockaway’s burned to the ground. The entire city mourned. After many months of lamenting the lack of availability of the Rockaway burger, crawfish etouffe and fried green tomatoes, the new Rockaway’s opened. That was many years ago. The burgers are back, the chicken salad is back, the cheese fries are back, but to this day, the fried greens still haven’t made it back onto the menu.

So what’s a girl to do but take matters into her own hands? That’s right, grow them yourself. This summer I planted a traditional beefsteak tomato and an heirloom variety known as “Mr. Stripey.” I’ve concluded that next year I need to have Clemson analyze a soil sample for me. Both plants grew to over 8 feet tall. Early on, they bloomed their hearts out, but produced no fruit. Finally, some small tomatoes surfaced on each plant, but they never got very big. We were able to harvest a few, but certainly not the kind of summer tomato crop that we’re used to getting around here. Since we’ve entered fall, they are now producing tons of baby tomatoes. I look at them every day wondering when the frost might sneak up on us and kill them. So, today, I picked a couple and decided to fry them up for lunch.

fried green tomatoesI dredged in corn starch, then egg wash, then back into a mixture of corn meal, flour & pepper. I cooked them in canola oil until nice and crispy and golden. Now, if you eat fried green tomatoes, you know that some salt & pepper is really all they need. However, today I had a bonus item in my fridge…leftover sriracha crème sauce from my salmon dish last night. I drizzled some of the crème sauce over the tomatoes. Shaazam! I Just perfected the fried green tomato. Mix up some mayo, sriracha & condensed milk to make this sauce. It adds a nice, slightly-sweet, zingy spice. You’ll thank me.

Elizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)” and loves followers and comments. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Eat, drink and be merry!

No Regrets – Who You Are

By: Lydia Scott

I am really bad about wanting to be helpful. Therapy has taught me about my “helper” persona and how it’s a blend of being a little bit of a hero and a little bit of a victim all rolled up into one. Helpers, like all the other personality styles out there, are awesome and important to have in our lives. Helpers want to make a difference, find the solution, make life easier, make things happen, and help you excel. We don’t want our needs to be ignored; yet we will be the first to turn down offers of help, questions of “are you okay?” and depressionsuggestions of rest. A little bit hero, a little bit victim. There’s not a thing wrong with our helpful ways, but it can cause us to crash and burn when life gets mean. And I’ve done that – crashed and burned. I was ashamed of it every time, and every time was really unpleasant, but I don’t regret any of it.

On three occasions in my life, I’ve crashed and burned to the point of having to take myself to what I call “the happiness hospital.” Behavioral counseling centers, psychiatric hospitals, inpatient stability centers…whatever you call them, they are where people go to get concentrated, inpatient help for addictions, suicidal issues, severe depression, or even just sheer emotional exhaustion. During one of my stays, I met a lady who said she admitted herself because she needed a vacation from her life and needed to be forced to take care of herself. It can be a really humiliating experience to take oneself (or be taken to) the happiness hospital, even though it should not be humiliating. While none of these experiences were high points in my life (and in fact occurred during the worst times of my life), I don’t regret any of them.

A middle class, stay-at-home mom “shouldn’t” have debilitating depression and severe emotional instability. Looking back at all three instances, I totally see what lead me to lose my grip on myself: feeling completely alone AND not taking care of myself on the inside. I was going and going, losing one thing or person after another, and never stopped to deal with any of it. I didn’t feel like I had anyone who could wrap their arms around me and help me feel stronger and not alone, even when I was married (the first time) and had family trying to support me.

It just snowballs until one day you physically can’t stop crying or you’re researching just how many pills you would need to take to not wake up tomorrow. If you’re lucky, you’ll realize you need help and you’ll stop the world in order to get it, even when the person who should be your biggest supporter responds to your plea for him to take you to the “mental hospital” with eye rolls, protests of “Why did you let yourself get so bad?” or, “Your problem is you need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and try harder.” You keep trying, even when that person instructs you to not “come home until you’re well” when you ask what will happen to your marriage because of this. (Big hint…my first visit resulted in the staff psychiatrist telling me the primary cause of my issues was my marriage.)

Each of my stays at the happiness hospital lasted from five to ten days, and I was on suicide watch for all of them. I learned how to make do without a lot of comforts (my regular deodorant, shoelaces, shaving alone, eating what and when I felt like it), and I learned a lot about both myself and humanity in general.

There was the heavier set lady in her 50s who came in straight from home, had no one to bring her any of her things, and was in tears because she had no bra and was humiliated to be walking around with the girls swinging free. (We happened to be close in size, so I gave her one of mine). There was the elderly lady in a wheelchair who adopted me as her confidant, and would sit next to me for hours telling me about her life and sobbing over everything and everyone she’d lost. There was the high-powered, well-known attorney in the robe and slippers pacing the hallways, who turned himself in for drug and alcohol abuse that resulted from the horrors he dealt with in his cases.

There were wealthy people, homeless people, drug addicts, alcoholics, sad people, exhausted people, confused people, young people, old people, employed people, jobless people. And we all had common ground…we were all here because something wasn’t right and it wasn’t getting better. We didn’t need a new kidney or stitches. We needed teachers, guidance counselors, and friends to lean on, talk to, cry with. We needed to learn who we were and how to live life.

When I had to give up my kids and the alcohol and nightmares took over my life, leading to my last happiness hospital trip, I especially needed an identity and a purpose. I felt useless, worthless, lost, and like the biggest failure to ever exist. That visit helped me learn who I was, deep down inside, regardless of what role I was playing in life at any given moment. I was no longer a wife. I felt like I was no longer a mother, no longer a Jehovah’s Witness, no longer Daddy’s girl (he had passed a few years earlier), no longer had a home, and no longer had my friends. The counselors helped me figure out WHO I was, not just WHAT I was. They taught me to identify people who always wind up hurting me and how to keep those people from hurting me again.

Most of all, although it took three times, I finally learned how to say “I need help” before crashing and burning. I can never regret the incredibly human people I got to know, and the glimpse into the rawness of what really being a human being is built of. It’s built of pain, smiles, and hugs. And it’s built on not being alone.

Have you ever really identified WHO you are, rather than WHAT you are? How hard or easy is it for you to say “I need help?” Did you go through something extremely hard and unpleasant, but don’t regret it? What did you learn?

A Clean Eating Thanksgiving Tradition

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

cranberry sauce

Since I’ve only been really cooking a few years, I have yet to build a huge arsenal of clean holiday foods. This recipe for Lemon Cranberry Sauce is the exception to that rule. I found the recipe in Clean Eating, and I’ve made it for at least the last three Thanksgivings. I’m making it again this year for both my work and my family Thanksgiving. I found Sucanat at Whole Foods, but I’m sure it’s available in other healthy food stores.

LEMON CRANBERRY SAUCE

Serves: 10

Hands-on time: 5 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes (plus chilling time)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup Sucanat
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from half of the lemon. (NOTE: Remove colored part only, avoid the white pith.) Cut peel crosswire into thin slices. Save remaining lemon for another use.

Set aside 1/2 tsp lemon peel. In a medium saucepan on medium, combine remaining lemon peel, cranberries, Sucanat, 3/4 cup water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most cranberries have burst, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a resealable container or serving dish and set aside to cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator. Serve chilled. Before serving, garnish with reserved 1/2 tsp lemon peel.

Nutrients per serving (3 tbsp Lemon Cranberry Sauce): Calories: 73, Total Fat: 0 g, Sat. Fat: 0 g, Carbs: 18 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 16 g, Protein: 1 g, Sodium: 57 mg, Cholesterol: 0 mg

Thirty-Three Years and Counting

By: Leah Prescott

MarriageOver the last few months, my parents have been going through some major health challenges that are testing their faith and endurance.  I worry a lot about them, but I know that they will rely on the Lord to get them through, just as they always have. I wrote this letter a few years ago, but it is even more true today than it was before. Please be encouraged and remember that the best example you can give to your children is to love your spouse each day with conviction and commitment.

My parents have been married, happily, for thirty-three years.

They have given us their four children, the best possible gift. Growing up we had love, security, and the constant knowledge that our parents loved us, and, more importantly, loved each other. In a world of failing unions and disposable marriages, we were blessed to grow up on a rock-solid foundation of biblical commitment. What a treasure!

Our home was a place of love. We saw that Mom and Dad loved each other, and we could see it when Mom worried about Dad’s diet or when Dad worked on a home project just to make life easier for Mom. They behaved like a team, which, incidentally, made it more difficult to break down their united front of discipline. We knew they were on the same page, and that gave them strength and resiliency. It was hard to find a crack in that armor.

My parents are, and have always been, a hard-working couple. It’s hard to imagine someone working harder than my mother. She raised the four of us, kept house, and educated us from beginning to end. She was constantly working on one or the other and often both. I know she feels she is never finished, but if you look at the results in the four of us, I think she deserves a break.

At the same time, Dad worked so hard to take care of Mom and the rest of us, putting his own needs aside. He often worked two or three jobs to provide for the best home life we could have. He worked so that we could experience the best stay-at-home mother in the world. He loved to be home with us, I know, but he was willing to do what it took to take care of our well being. When he was at home, he was always doing projects around the house, working to make our lives a little richer, a touch easier, or a bit more fun.

My parents love each other and here is how I know: They talk, truly talk, all the time. When they are apart, they spend much of their time on the phone together. Even after my dad has spent an endless day of talking to clients, he still picks up the phone and calls my mom, clearly happy to hear her voice.

They laugh together. They both have a great sense of humor and that’s a good thing with raising four children. I know there are many times that we made them want to cry (or maybe scream?) so it’s fortunate that they could always come back and laugh about the challenges they faced. They passed a love of laughter on to us kids.

Mom and Dad are a balanced team. They are such a strong mix of cautious and optimistic, pragmatic and visionary. I am proud to see them surviving difficult situations like illness and unemployment with a bit of that well-seasoned humor. I also know that even though they are not swimming in earthly wealth, they believe in storing up heavenly treasures instead. I know that they consider their family to be their greatest asset here on earth. I am so happy to be their daughter, and to have observed a godly marriage in action all of these years.

Mom and Dad, thank you for giving us such a wonderful experience as children and a beautiful example as adults, of what a truly godly marriage looks like. We love you. Your union is what created the four of us, who we are and how we live. And all four of us love the Lord more than anything, and want to honor Him with all of our hearts. We want to love our families as Christ loved the church. I would say that your marriage has been an incredible success.

Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to each other and to us. I can’t wait to observe the next decades of marriage and to watch the two of you enter a new stage. Hopefully one that involves a little less work and worry and even more laughter and love. I know that your faith and commitment will see you through the challenges and continue to inspire the rest of us. Your marriage has reflected Jesus in this dark world. It lights the way for a second generation of families to follow, just praying we can emulate the success we see in you each day.